On June 12 2016, what was at the time America’s worst mass murder took place at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was latino night in the middle of Pride Month and 49 mostly young, LGBTQ and latinx people were murdered with 56 people injured. It was also the deadliest single incidence of violence against LGBTQ people in the United States.
Pride Month in the USA is a yearly event that commemorates the June 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, an important milestone in the fight for LGBTQ rights and the creation of safe spaces for LGBTQ people to gather and be themselves without fear of arrest. June 12 is now known as Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.
The Acts Of Love And Kindness movement grew out of the acts of kindness and generosity witnessed in the aftermath of the tragedy. The movement inspires the Orlando community and beyond to honour the victims by engaging in volunteerism, sharing stories and showing acts of love and kindness in the 49 days leading up to June 12. Participants are encouraged to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #ActLoveGive.
Over the past two years, as survivors, family and friends of those taken and the Latinx and LGBTQ communities grieve and work to process the tragedy, LGBTQ rights groups in Orlando have raised millions of dollars for the victims and their families, new resource centres and safe spaces for LGBT young people have been established and the Pulse nightclub site is to be turned into a lasting memorial by 2020.
On June 12, people took to social media to show the ways they honoured the victims with action, from handing out 1000s of affirmations and rainbow ribbons, to feeding the homeless, to 149 churches in all 50 of the United States ringing their bells 49 times.